Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Classic

Today I shot up to Gilford, NH and Gunstock Ski Area to run the 2nd race in the Granite State Showshoe Series put on by Acidotic Racing.  

The Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Classic (results) is just short of a 6k and let me tell you, this was one tough course in spots.  Not only did it have an absolutely killer climb, but it also had some pretty rough single track bushwack that kept you on your toes.

I was thinking of getting my k splits (as with all of these Granite State races, the splits are all  accurately marked).  At 1k in, I realized with my new watch I didn't exactly remember how to split it, so I just let it be (knowing that the 'hill' was coming, I figured a couple of the splits would be pretty ugly anyways).  The split markers are really only beneficial so you know where you are out on the course and how much further you have to go...as anyone who runs snowshoe races knows, time usually doesn't mean anything at these things and it will differ year to year.  The snow and course conditions change from year to year, as does the weather.  This year's course is different from last years, but the climb up Cobble Mountain I believe is the same.  

Two nights ago I had a dream that I was out west at a double WMAC race weekend (and no DD did NOT make an appearance in the dream).  I dreamt that at both races, I couldn't get my snowshoes on in time and missed the start each time.  I told Kristin about it last night and she just rolled her eyes... but today it almost happened to me.  After realizing that I didn't really know anyone there (Steve Wolfe sat this one out with a stomach bug) I went out on my warmup solo, and went a little too long, a little too close to race time.  I got back with less than 10 minutes to spare and took my sweet time getting ready.  What I didn't do is bring my usual black Nike Pegasus (old) trainers that I've run the previous 5 snowshoe races in.  Instead I brought a pair of blue Nike XC spikes (DO NOT ASK ME WHY).  I threw them on and jogged over to the start.  I put my snowshoes on and realized to my horror that the back strap came right up over the low-profile spikes immediately.  I now had like 3 minutes to go before the gun was fired...I screwed back over to the car and grabbed my other pair of trainers that I've never snowshoed in, and threw those on.  I got to the start in time to do 2 strides before Chris started the race.  Immediately I felt like trash.  I don't remember the last time I felt this bad this early in a race.  I mean, it was immediate.  Tim Cox (Acidotic/PR Racing) was right with me and I knew that it was going to be a good race as he has been one of the top NH road race standouts for a long time.  One minor error right away, put me down and around the wrong trail for a couple seconds but really didn't add anything to my overall time and didn't affect my place.  Tim tried to keep me on the right path about 3 times in the first k (to which I was grateful), as I had no idea what I was doing.  It was almost surreal, as I felt like I was completely out of shape and struggled with all of the first 2k which had some decent climbs up and down over groomed xc ski trails.  A vast contradiction to how I felt last weekend.  I think this was a clear indicator that I need to get a little rest and will call this weekend's racing over after today for sure.  The rolls over the first k and a half absolutely killed me.  I really struggled and only put a little distance on Tim who hung out within view over my shoulder the whole time...I hit 'the climb' and was in the hurt locker all the way up.  10 seconds running, 5 seconds power hiking, repeat.  I think Tim gained quite a bit on me on the way up, as I continue to struggle on the climbs in these races...It made me grateful that dd was out west this weekend :).  This is his type of course.  At the top of the climb, Mr. Dunn was there offering some words of encouragement and it was down some bushwack single track on and off until 5k.  This downhill (like the uphill) was VERY tough.  I fell 6 total times completely on my knees and hands.  2 on the way up and 4 on the way down.  The trail was about a foot and a half (approximately a pair of snowshoes width wise) wide.  If you stepped even an inch to the right or left, you sunk down in a foot + of powder and down you go.  This made you have to hold back and go about 50% on the way down (which is tough both mentally and physically).  It did occasionally open up back onto groomed xc trails which you could really rock on...but the damage to my legs and cardio was already done.  At just after 5k, I got wacked in the head with a thin bunch of branches hanging over the trail and it whipped my sunglasses off the top of my head.  I stopped about 12-15 feet from them, and quickly made the decision to go back for them before they got trampled.  The last part of the race was a long straightaway over rough semi-packed snow that was just plain slow and made for a grueling last run to the finish. 

In the end, I won in a time of 32:11, with Tim not too far back in his 2nd snowshoe race ever.  All in all a tough course, but great fun as usual.  I did 'glance' at my watch at 5k and saw I was 29:05 (Yikes!).  Did I mention there was a climb in there?  67 total finishers made for another pretty good field for the series.

Chris Dunn and his Acidotic Racing crew know how to pick great courses and put on really cool, professional snowshoe races for sure.  The post-race festivities were again, worth the trip.  They get a lot of raffle prizes (almost enough to get everyone who shows up, something to take home).  Like Pooh Hill a few weeks back, Redhook donated a TON of beer (this time, 12 packs), Redhook merchandise, and clothing and hats.  There were also gift certs, pairs of Yak Trax, Hammer Gels, Katoolah swag, etc.  The coolest thing at the end, was of course the raffling off of another pair of Katoolah FLIGHTdeck TS snowshoes.  Like Pooh Hill, I got some Redhook Long Hammer (but 12 this time :) ).  Then, for winning the race, I got hooked up with another 12 rack of Redhook Copper Hook Spring Ale and another pair of Katoolah Microspikes (which I will graciously give to Kristin, as I have my pair from Pooh Hill).  So far I'm really enjoying this series and like getting up and running in new places this winter. I'm glad dd talked me into snowshoe racing.  It's really the first time he's ever given me good advice.  Usually he is trying to railroad me, but I have to actually give him some credit on this one... 

I also got to chat with Dan Scotina who has a really cool trail running/snowshoeing blog that focuses on Breakheart Reservation in Saugus, MA (where I did most all of my runs in High School, including our home XC course).  It's really an underrated place to run and I enjoyed getting back down there a couple times this summer to run over some of the many trails and access roads all through the reservation.  Not only does it bring back some cool memories for me, but its also a great place to get in a good workout.  It is pretty hilly, as anyone who has run the Breakheart 6k in Wakefield, MA knows.

All in all it was a good day, but I'm pretty beat and may actually indulge in one of these beers I brought home (alert the media).  The lovely and talented Kristin didn't make the trip, as she was home pretty sick this weekend and had a tough week with illness, hence no real photographic evidence from this one.  I was too tired to really take any shots after the race (I took maybe 5 of the ski area and that was it)....  Looking forward now to a long slow run tomorrow and will watch myself this week and make sure I get some adequate rest while keeping my mileage up... Then 2 more Granite State races next weekend: Sidehiller in Center Sandwich, NH on Saturday (which is also a WMAC series race and a USSSA regional qualifyer for snowshoe nationals out at Mt. Hood, OR in March) and then Frosty's Dash For a Cure in Atkinson, NH, which is in my neck of the hood, I mean woods on Sunday.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Boston Prep 16 Miler

This morning finished off another weekend double as I ran the Boston Prep 16 Miler (results) in Derry, NH. For those who have run this, they know...for those that haven't, it is HILLY. If this was on dirt road, they could bid to have this race in the mountain series... It may have been a bit much to do the day after a hard snowshoe race, but I entered, paid the 35 beans, and had it on the schedule, so I went. My goal was to be somewhere around 6:15-6:30 pace overall, depending on how I felt. I knew I was going to be tired and my legs were going to be a little heavy so I wasn't particularly sure what to expect. As the race went out, I went out very relaxed and let Andy go immediately. I settled in behind a Running Heritage runner for the first 5-6 miles or so and kept within a couple seconds of him, in 3rd overall place. Over that first 6 or so miles, I felt ok and was clicking through quite faster than I would have liked. I behaved on the first mile (which has a lot of climb) but then started to motor. Somewhere between miles 5 and 6, Dave Quintal (CMS) hopped in and ran with what was now a pack of me, the Running Heritage guy, Brendan Lynch (HFC), and Greg Ward (CMS). He stayed with me offering words of encouragement through mile 7. By then, it was downhill a bit and I was alone, as Ward and Lynch pulled away, and I was losing the Running Heritage runner to the hills. I settled into 4th place at mile 7 and there I would stay until about mile 12. I grabbed a GU around mile 8, downed that, grabbed a tiny bit of water at the next water station, and then hit the hill on Drew road right after the 9 mile marker, which kicks you square in the ass. I really started to lose sight of 2nd and 3rd there and couldn't see Andy at all anymore. At about 10.5 is when the HILLS really start. I slowed to a crawl there, as my pace went from sub 6 to near 6:30s for that stretch... Near the top of the worst of the hills, Justin Montgomery (Claremont, NH) went by me pretty convincingly and made a comment about the killer hills...but it didn't seem to be bothering him as he really pulled away. At about mile 13 I could just see ultra /mountain runner Martin Tighe (Tuesday Night Turtles and 50 years young) coming up and into view... I turned it on a tiny bit over the last 3 miles and held off some pretty good hamstring and calf pain over the last part of the course.... the hamstring actually started to flair up around mile 5 and last for around 3 miles... but held off until about 13, where I was now comfortably running in 5th place and just holding that spot.

CMS presence was in full swing today as Andy McCarron (CMS) was 1st overall in a blazing 1:31:40. Greg Ward (CMS) was 3rd overall in 1:34:48. I rounded out the CMS top 3 in 5th overall in 1:35:54.
And now for more mediocrity than you know what to do with....

Splits - 16 miles - 1:35:54 (6:00 pace) - 5th of 655.

Mile 01) 6:10
Mile 02) 5:44 (11:55)
Mile 03) 5:40 (17:35)
MIle 04) 5:46 (23:21)
Mile 05) 5:58 (29:19)
Mile 06) 5:41 (35:01)
Mile 07) 5:55 (40:57)
Mile 08) 5:38 (46:35)
Mile 09) 6:05 (52:40)
Mile 10) 6:21 (59:02)
Mile 11) 6:30 (1:05:33)
Mile 12) 6:38 (1:12:11)
Mile 13) 6:10 (1:18:22)
Mile 14) 5:59 (1:24:22)
Mile 15) 6:04 (1:30:27)
Mile 16) 5:27 (1:35:54)


I really worked the last mile as I could smell the finish line and I was concerned that Martin was getting a little too close for comfort...

An interesting look below (click to expand) of the course layout and my splits per mile.








Awesome to see fellow Goons Dan Hill, Sarah Prescott, and Kelly LeCours out there competing (Kelly had a homemade Goon Squad singlet on that was absolutely incredible...it had her Goon name on the back and everything)... also fellow snowshoer and Acidotic racing/GCS Triad stud Steve Wolfe held off a back spasm early in the race and ran very strong, winning the coveted 40-49 (masters) age group and (potentially) setting a course PR in 1:43:35 (6:29 pace).

Top 3 aside (as they don't double dip), they then moved to age groups and I was surprised to see that I was 5th overall (so 2nd in line for an age group award), but still 2nd in my age group behind Justin Montgomery (32 yrs old) who was 4th overall and 1 place ahead of me... The difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd was the size of the jug of Maple Syrup you get. Speaking of swag, the post race spread was pretty good, as they had a bunch of beverages, fruits, hot chocolate, some burrito looking things, and some soups and chilis. They also gave out long sleeve zip up technical shirts (mine is HUGE and its a medium) to all registrants, and they had some past year stuff to hand out to finishers as you came across the line. I grabbed a headwarmer from last years race (I think).

A quick cooldown (or as Dave calls it a 'warmdown' which makes no sense) with Steve Wolfe (quick as in distance, not time) and some post race grub, and I was back on the road for the very long 10 minute drive back home.



Also a huge shout out to Scott Mason who is becoming more and more familiar with New Hampshire this year...he came all the way up from the Ocean State to grab some race photos and give some encouragement out there on the tough sections. Thanks Scotty!

7 races down now in January (with 1 to go) and 2 weeks back to back of 80+ miles. Things are looking up... Hopefully my hamstring and calf issues today are just from the high weeks and back to back doubles ... I'll grab an icebath tonight before bed (yuck) and really keep an eye on the legs this week. Next up is Cobble Mountain on Saturday. I may back off the Sunday race, as I am no longer in the mood to shoot way out to Saratoga, NY anymore this winter. I may either look for something else, or run a slow long run (which is probably the smartest thing to do).



Photos in this entry are all by the witty and talented Scott Mason. The lovely and talented Kristin took a weekend off from my races and finally took down our Christmas decorations. I guess I should give her a break now and then (especially in this cold weather)...because lord knows once the spring/summer season is in full swing, I'll be dragging her all over New England to these things.... Scotty should have some great shots up on his site by tomorrow, for a nominal fee...Absolutely fantastic looking pro shots from this up and coming snowshoer from RI...



Saturday, January 24, 2009

Feel Good Farm 7k

Saturday was my 5th snowshoe race this season (4th of the 2009) and my 6th race of the year.  It was the Feel Good Farm 7k Snowshoe Race (results) put on by 3C Race Productions and held at Feel Good Farm in Lyndeborough, NH.  The farm is an impressive 540 acre property with an abundance of trails that are home to a couple of races put on by 3C throughout the year.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Dan Verrington show up to not only a snowshoe race, but also his 2nd race of the day, having run the Fudgcicle 5k in Tewksbury earlier in the morning. Also making the ride over to the farm was Tim Cox (PR Racing), and a car full of Rhode Island runners (Tuesday Night Turtles' Scott Mason, Bob Jackman, and a couple others).  The race only fielded 12 finishers of the 8k (two loops) and 2 finishers of the one loop 4k version of the course.  

The course was all virgin snow that had been gone over 4 or 5 times by Michael Amarello beforehand, to flatten it out and blaze the trail.  The snow was deep and none of the trail was groomed any further than 4 sets of snowshoe tracks, which made it slow going in spots.  The hill was pretty tough but I'd say Pooh Hill may have been slightly harder.  This particular climb had a flat part in the middle that allowed you to somewhat recover before hitting the very last stretch to the top.  I was about 16 seconds slower on the second loop, while the consensus was that everyone else I talked to were faster on their second loop. 

Splits: 15:21 and 15:36 . - 30:57 - 1st place of 12.  The race is actually toted now as an 8k, although I can't imagine I was cranking 6:12s, especially up that hill.... 



Steve Wolfe was kind enough to head over to the farm to grab some photos and video of the race. Check out his photo gallery here.  Video above is courtesy of Steve Wolfe...

Next up is the Boston Prep 16 miler tomorrow that will be a 20 mile day for me.  It should be a good workout and a good cap to a really good weekend of threshold running.  I should hopefully come out of this weekend a little stronger and one small step closer to getting into shape for Boston.  I plan on going out really conservative tomorrow and try to hit 6:30s or so for as long as I feel ok... 2 before and 2 after will give me a solid 20 miles on the day.  I'm not going to worry about place or overall time as much as just getting in a solid, long workout and work the hills over the middle part of the course.  

On a side note, strategic placement of this race in the corner of Lyndeborough, NH allowed me to townbag 3 new NH towns today (Lyndeborough being one, and Wilton and Mont Vernon on the warmups/cooldowns).

All photos above, courtesy of Steve Wolfe.  Pictured above, Bob Jackman, JJ, Dan Verrington (hidden behind me), and Tim Cox on the cooldown.

Update to follow tomorrow (if I survive it)...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Road Trip Video

Disclaimer: Ok, a Warning ahead of time, these are long and VERY booring. Please do NOT expect anything worthwhile in these videos. They contain a lot of road shots, some very random banter, and absolutely zero race footage (as I am not quite at the Tivo level to be able to film myself as I race). Again, these are probably the worst videos on the internet and I already know this.

Thanks.

Day 1




Day 2


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snowshoe Weekend

This weekend was jammed packed with blistering cold racing and hiking out in western Mass and New York. I headed out at 6am with Dave Dunham from Ward Hill where it was somewhere around 3 degrees F. It didn't get much if any better than that. The plan was to race a double (two WMAC Dion Snowshoe Racing Series races), do a snowshoe hike up to another fire tower Dave needed, stay out in Albany, and hit 2 towns and 1 more fire tower out in western Mass that he still needed. For those counting, thats 2 snowshoe races (basically 2 x 4 milers), 2 hikes, 2 firetowers, and 2 more towns to cross off dd's Mass townbagging list. All in 2 days and all in 2 degree weather.

After about a 2 hr 45 minute ride out west to Adams, MA we arrived at the base of Mt. Greylock around 8:45 am and were signed up, bundled up, and ready to warmup around 9:10. As we started the warmup, we noticed how loaded this race would soon become, with the cars pulling in driven by the likes of Justin Fyffe, Ben Nephew, Tim Mahoney, Tim VanOrden, etc. With a couple miles to talk it over, dd filled me in on race strategy, the course as he remembered, and a continuous reminder of how 'f'ing cold it was'. The image below shows the starting/finishing/registration area in true WMAC style. Hot Chocolate, cookies, and Tivo's raw food discussion were essentially the after party festivities.

As race # 3 in the WMAC Dion Snowshoe Racing Series was underway (entitled: Greylock Glen (results)), the pack quickly took shape in the form of trail monster Ben Nephew (CMS - Inov-8), Justin Fyffe (CMS), myself, Matt Cartier, Dave Dunham, Tim Mahoney, and Tim VanOrden all filing in. It remained close to that order until we hit the single track and Justin Fyffe (in his first ever snowshoe race) went wide around Ben and never looked back. Ben and I stayed close and put a little distance on the pack through the single track UNTIL we started to hit the climb (which was about a mile's worth of twisting and turning up hill on single track). This is where I completely lost it. I slowed to just about a walk and kept looking behind me the entire time. Soon I could see dd and others coming up on me, and was losing Ben. It wasn't long before dd was right up behind me (you couldn't miss him in his bright yellow Atlas body suit). I pulled over to the side, stopped completely, and let him go by up the trail. I then settled back in for just a bit before again pulling off to let Matt Cartier go by as well. He gave me a couple words of encouragement as he went by and then I hopped back on the trail in front of oncoming CMS teammate Tim Mahoney and continued the ascent. At the top, the trail dumps out onto a wide snowmobile trail and began to descend. I soon found myself catching back up with Matt and we were both coming up on dd, who at one point I had actually been out of site of after he blew past me. Towards the bottom of the climb down, Matt waved me past and eventually I went. Soon after I got Dave back, asked him how far we had to go as I went by, and started to rock (pictured over to the left...looking back at Matt and dd - courtesy of the WMAC) At the 3 mile marker, I was very close to catching Ben Nephew again and at about 3.5 I was right behind him and we were both closing in on Justin Fyffe who had begun to slow slightly over the last part of the course. Just as I thought I might get Ben, there was a relatively short but steep climb near the end of the race that was just bad enough to knock me out of any hopes of a 2nd place finish. I kicked it in to finish in 3rd place, 4 seconds back of Ben and 14 seconds back of Justin Fyffe who hung on for the win in his first snowshoe race.

It was a CMS sweep on the day, as CMS put 6 in the top 7 and 7 in the top 10. Abby Woods once again won the women's race by finishing an overall 9th place (just beating out Paul Bazanchuk right at the line). Ken Clark, who also doubled this weekend, finished behind Tim VanOrden, in 8th place.

Pictured to the left are 2nd place finisher Ben Nephew (CMS - Inov-8), Justin Fyffe (CMS), and Double J (CMS).

The cooldown consisted of another few miles with dd, myself, and Justin who admitted to some beer drinking the night before, but it didn't affect his race in the slightest. As we talked about the race, my focus wandered a bit (perhaps due to brain freeze beginning to set in) and I found myself up in the air and then down flat on my head. I had slipped and fallen on packed snow over ice and come down head first. It didn't turn out to be as bad as I had initially thought, and after the shock went away, I was back on my feet and soon found myself again listening to dd's stories about how awesome he is.

Results (top 10) from Greylock Glen - Adams, MA - 1/17/09 - 3.9 Mile
CMS in blue.

Place
Name
Age
Time
1
Justin Fyffe
28
29:37
2
Ben Nephew
33
29:47
3
Jim Johnson
31
29:51
4
Matt Cartier
33
30:14
5
Dave Dunham
44
30:18
6
Tim Mahoney
29
31:31
7
Tim Van Orden
40
31:48
8
Ken Clark
46
33:25
9
Abby Woods
30
33:41
10
Paul Bazanchuk
54
33:42


...74 Total Finishers.

Full Results - courtesy of the WMAC
Race Photos - courtesy of Berkshire Sports

The view of Mt. Greylock from the bottom was fantastic. I took a very small amount of photos (seen here at Smugmug) of the beginning area of the course and a couple of people hanging out but nothing crazy. As Kristin didn't make the trip I was limited to the number of photos I have, but did manage to take out the zoom lens and snap some shots of an ice covered summit of Greylock (pictured to the left).

From there, it was down the road just a bit, to the old Brodie Mountain Ski Area (Snowy Owl) where dd and I would start a very tough (for me at least) post-race snowshoe hike straight up the ski trails to the firetower on top. From here, dd's writeup of events will most surely differ from mine...but rest assured, you are hearing it AS IT HAPPENED from this humble narrator. I will be the first to admit I had a tough time hiking up. I lagged a bit and at certain points found myself even out of conversation range with Dave as we shoed up the slopes that had only been travelled by what looked to be either coyotes or deer this winter, and not much else. At around 58 minutes or so, we reached the firetower, went up the extremely icey stairs, and grabbed some cool video and still images of the surrounding mountains of MA and NY. The trip down only took about 28 minutes as we shot straight down a more direct route along the lift line.

I did take some shots up on top which can be seen here (Smugmug).

Once again we were back down and finding ourselves back to fumbling through the mountains of gear we had both brought to ration out some dry clothes for the 2nd part of the road trip out west to Albany NY, where we were staying Saturday night in anticipation of doing the first double of the season. My back at this point was KILLING me. Lugging a backpack straight up ski slopes with camera equipment, water, extra clothes, etc. was a little too much for me right after a race. Couple that with deep snow snowshoeing for over a mile uphill and it started to take its toll. I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to be able to be on my feet but the promise of a whirlpool at the hotel made the horizon a little brighter. We arrived at the hotel in late afternoon, right across the street from the campus of the University of Albany, where I had run many times in both cross country and track while at UMass Lowell. It was also the location of my only sub 25 performance, at the 1998 NECC XC Conference Championships in which I won the race and Lowell took 2nd place as a team. Good memories for sure.

Three trips each for dd and myself up and down to the car to get all our gear, we finally had all our stuff up in the room and out of the sub zero temperatures outside. After some half-hearted reorganization and more stories of how awesome dd is from dd's point of view, we got ready and headed out to grab some grub down the road. After returning from dinner we got our stuff together and headed down to the pool for a soak, at which time we tried to make another one of Dave's coaching video blog entries... Depending on the perspective, it could have gone horribly wrong, but dd might try to use it anyway... it will be interesting to see. (Photo to the left of your's truly heading down Brodie Mtn. Obviously happy because I'm moving in the direction that is easiest for me :) )...

As we returned upstairs, we 'assumed' that the heat worked in the room, but we were pretty much dead wrong. I spent the next 9 hours freezing my a$$ off. I threw a bunch of layers on, all the blankets I had, and laid there shivering all night long. Besides my trip to Flagstaff last April, I don't think I've ever spent a night this cold in my life. I've never been winter camping yet, but I cannot imagine it being much worse. Again, this is where dd's point of view and mine may differ. He claims he was fine and in fact he says it was very comfortable in there....he claims he keeps his house at 65. The thermostat on the wall said 65 + or - all night but I know it wasn't right. I couldn't wait for the morning so I could get up and either take a hot shower to defrost, or get back in my car and crank the heat.

The trip over to the race in Guilderland, NY from the hotel took only a few minutes. DD and I arrived at the start of the Brave the Blizzard snowshoe (website) (results) race at around 9am or so. This race was race #4 in the WMAC Dion Snowshoe Series and is put on by the Albany Running Exchange. It was hailed as the 'Largest Snowshoe Race Ever in the Northeast' but dd pointed out a couple others in past years that had a few more people finish...overall though, this relatively flat 3.9 mile course had 173 finishers total, which is a very impressive turnout. This race was held over trails in the back of a school which also served as an actual indoor facility (almost unheard of) that we could use to keep our gear warm and out of the elements. It was also nice to use an indoor bathroom :). I got a few pictures of the start/finish area and inside (viewed here on my Smugmug page).

The race itself went out across a couple of fields behind the school where it was pretty deep powder that made it VERY slow going and tough for the first 300 meters or so. There was no path created yet across this stuff, so I was blazing the way from the gun because nobody really wanted to get up and take the lead. I moved from side to side a couple times hoping the couple guys behind me from the Albany Running Exchange would come up and take it, but in the end, I got no takers. My initial race plan was to let race director and last year's winner Josh Merlis take the lead and sit on him as long as I could... However, after the first 300 or so meters played out, I did what I didn't want to do, and got to the first hill and up into the single track trail in first place. From here, I didn't look back (well, I did, but figuratively speaking...). The trail was choppy for a good part of the way and I was slipping all over the place for a good part of this section with my standard cleats (I would buy the Dion Deep Cleats after the race was over)... I just couldn't get great traction, but it didn't stop me from crankin' right along at a pretty relaxed pace. At about 1 and 1/2 in or so I couldn't see 2nd place behind me anymore and knew if I just kept moving along I'd be alright. I felt my left shoe coming slightly loose which was scary, but it never did losen up any more than that. The course has some slight constant rolls but no real major hills. Some parts are steep but very short, so there fortunately wasn't any part of this race that was going to suck the life out of me like Greylock did the day before. At maybe 2 and 1/2 miles you start to come back along the same way you went out and I started to pass by people who were still working the first part of the course....many of them yelled to me that I was going the wrong way...I explained to only a few (when I could muster the breath) that I was leading and this was where the course went over the last part of the race... At about 3 miles, back on the single track, there was a fallen tree across the trail that you could go under if you stayed far right...I 'thought' I was far enough over and ran full speed by it, only to realize on impact that I wasn't even close. I got the trunk of the tree full on in the left shoulder which almost knocked me clear down to the ground....I stayed on my feet (barely) and plugged on (now having a bruised and stiff left shoulder to show for it). At maybe 3 and 1/2 miles in I could hear the music playing at the finish line and knew I was close. I 'think' it was Train in Vain from the Clash... I ended up finishing the 3.9 mile course in 27:17 (7:00 pace) and just about 2 minutes ahead of Joe Hayter (Albany Running Exchange) from Schenectady, NY. (Photo above, courtesy of ARE and Paul Partridge)

Results (top 10) from Brave the Blizzard - Guilderland, NY - 1/18/09 - 3.9 Mile
CMS in blue.

Place
Name
Age
City
State
Time
Pace
1
Jim Johnson
31
Salem
NH
27:17
7:00
2
Joseph Hayter
28
Schenectady
NY
29:14
7:30
3
Josh Merlis
27
Albany
NY
29:53
7:40
4
David Dunham
44
Ward Hill
MA
30:39
7:52
5
Ken Clark
46
Somers
CT
31:32
8:06
6
Brian Northan
33
Guilderland
NY
31:46
8:09
7
Andrew McCarthy
25
Albany
NY
32:49
8:25
8
Andrew Rickert
29
Delmar
NY
32:59
8:28
9
Leslie Dillon
25
Troy
NY
33:15
8:32
10
Edward Alibozek
46
Suffield
CT
34:13
8:47


173 Total Finishers...

Full Results - courtesy of the Albany Running Exchange
Race Photos - courtesy of the Albany Running Exchange

Video Below courtesy of the Albany Running Exchange




After the race, a light cooldown, small awards ceremony (indoors thank god), and a collection of post-race rants by dd, we hopped back in the car and blew town... Contemplating for about an hour as we drove East, we decided that the weather was good enough to shoot up to 2 of the last remaining few western MA towns dd had not run in yet and bag another firetower. We drove up to the border between Pelham MA and Belchertown MA, along a road at the base of Lincoln, Mt. in Pelham, MA. We strapped on the Katoolah's and ran up a trail from the road that got us to the top in only about 10 minutes or so. We climbed up another tower but this time couldn't get up inside, as the cab on top was closed. DD got some photos (including this one of both of us) and I got some video of the surrounding area, including 7 Sisters and UMass Amherst before heading back down. We ran down the auto road and back to the car and over the border into Belchertown for a 3 mile (24 minute) shakeout that crosses two more towns off Dave's list.

From there, it was once again change into what was left of dry clothes and head on home...We pulled into Ward Hill, MA at about 5:30pm to drop dd off and I was home about 10 minutes later. After about 30 minutes of unloading all the crap from my car, I was finally back home and able to lay down in a room that was over 60 degrees.

All in all it was a real fun weekend with my first double (back to back) of the year. I have a bunch of video clips I'm going to splice together for another episode of DoubleJRunning's award winning viral video series. I will work on that sometime today and get it up as soon as possible. No race footage obviously, but I believe there will be some race videos surface from some people at Greylock and definitely from the Albany Running Exchange, who put videos together of all their races. More to come on that.

This wraps up a good week for me of about 85 miles and I am now looking forward to this coming weekend's tempo effort at the Boston Prep 16 miler in Derry, NH.

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Snowshoe Goodness!

Last weekend I had to miss the WMAC Dion Series race out in Pittsfield, MA in order to get the first Granite State race in up in East Madison, NH, which was a blast.  Kristin and I then did a relatively short snowshoe hike up the auto road to Cathedral Ledge in N. Conway (some photos we took) after the race before heading home.

Originally scheduled to be South Pond in Florida, MA, the WMAC had to change last week's race to the 1st Annual Turner Trail 4.3 Mile Snowshoe race (results) in Pittsfield State Forest, Pittsfield, MA.

CMS (in blue) had a great showing there with 5 in the top 13, including another win for Abby Woods. See dd's writeup and video here.

1st ANNUAL TURNER TRAIL 4.3-MILE SNOWSHOE RACE Results

Place
Name
Age
Time
1
Corey Watts        
20
0:34:23
2
Ben Nephew       
33
0:35:37
3
Matt Cartier        
33
0:35:46
4
Tim Van Orden  
40
0:35:49
5
Dave Dunham    
44
0:36:07
6
Tim Mahoney     
29
0:36:39
7
Matt Westerlund
36
0:37:01
8
Matthew Deady  
21
0:37:52
9
Geoff Rodriguez
20
0:38:58
10
Brian Northan     
33
0:39:20
11
Ken Clark           
46
0:39:26
12
Paul Bazanchuk 
54
0:39:28
13
Abby Woods       
30
0:40:02

... 66 Finishers Total

There were also TWO very cool videos done (figures while I was elsewhere)... and I'm not even including anything Tivo may have come up with... Brad Herder (1st video below) and Jay Kolodzinski both hopped on the race video train and got some nice footage of winter-racing-goodness!  Check em' out!





Later today I will be packing for this weekend's trip out west w/ dd to attend 2 WMAC races.  The first being Greylock Glen out in Adams, MA and the other being Brave the Blizzard in Guilderland, NY.  There will also be some hikes up Brodie Mountain and some other peaks along the ridge and then some additional MA townbagging for dd on the way back.  It's going to be a fun weekend for sure...cold but fun...once my fingers warm back up I'll hopefully have some reporting and visual evidence to post...


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble

This weekend was race #1 in the Granite State Snowshoe Series put on by Acidotic racing . The Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble (results and writeup) in East Madison, NH was the scene of the crime this time around. The race was held at the King Pine ski area (technically across the street) around Purity Lake (The race actually runs through 2 towns - Eaton and (East) Madison (neither of which I've run in...crossing 2 more NH towns off the list). The course was described by Acidotic as:

'a mixture of groomed nordic, ungroomed snowshoe, and backcountry bushwhack singletrack.... the Pooh Hill Trail plays a prominent role in the course design. Expect a roughly 1/3 of a mile climb to just below the summit of Toll Hill and a bushwhack descent. Brook crossings and log hurdles are just some of the unique features of this course.'

This is also one of the coolest courses I've run on. It was just a blast... The race is actually between 8.5 and 9k and there is a lot of groomed trail running which makes a lot of this course pretty fast...Then they throw in Pooh Hill and it just immediately sucks the life right out of you (as seen in the quick video further below graciously taken by Kevin Tilton at the top). Paul Kirsch (White Mountain Milers and race director extraordinaire) graciously explained the course to me beforehand, as he had run over it earlier in the morning with regular running shoes on. This actually helped me tremendously, as it allowed me to not only follow the flags on the course, but also his footprints in the snow....a huge plus.

The conditions were fantastic. 5 degrees and sunny over this course made it as ideal as possible. The course rolls a bit at first over wide groomed trails before it hooks down and across a section of Purity Lake, over a small wooden foot bridge and up into single track for a bit. The single track is up and down pretty good at close to 2k before it dumps out onto an unplowed access road that is also groomed for skiing. That goes up to about the 4k mark before it makes its way right and up the Pooh Hill trail, which is a single track/backcountry bushwack that reduces pretty much anyone's pace down to an erratic, on and off walk/powerhike.

The course then winds down Pooh Hill in an out of control, winding bushwack back to the road. This area of the course proved to be slightly confusing for many, including the 2nd place runner who actually missed the turn completely and kept going. He realized he had missed the turn too late, when he went from the 4k mark to the 6k mark in relatively short time. He continued on until he got to the first person out on the course after the hill, which was the lovely and talented Kristin, taking pictures (hence the shots of him in the photo gallery, before I came by). As he ran by her, he stopped and told her what had happened. He then stayed there and waited until I went by before taking off his snowshoes and trotting back to the finish on the roads.

As I came off out of the Pooh Hill trail and back onto the road (passing people on the way up), I saw one woman go right past the trail, and she didn't turn back until I mentioned that the course went up that way. I had actually missed the turn myself as well at first, continued on for a few strides before realizing the course went up that way. This apparently happened to some others who were confused at that section. Fortunately, for most who studied the map beforehand, people were looking for that right. The rest of the course was marked beautifully and there was no other issues to speak of... I am looking forward to this race again next year already.

After getting back out on the groomed access road, it was all mostly open and smooth sailing from there over the last 3k. There was a couple sections of up and down (one near the very end of the race, just after the 8k mark, that is borderline cruel) and one section of the course that goes straight across frozen Purity Lake. I went out fairly conservative at the beginning of the race because I knew Pooh Hill was coming (even though when Kevin, Steve, and I warmed up, we only did the first 1k of the course, so I didn't actually see Pooh Hill before I got to it in the race).... Even in 'saving' a little for the hill, once I got to it, it didn't matter at all. It kicked me in the arse anyways. Once I got down off of the Pooh Hill trail, I essentially mailed it in and ran relatively comfortable the rest of the way...I periodically looked behind me to make sure I was going to stay up front and really enjoyed the last 3k of this beautiful course.  I won in a time of 44:04, which is approximately 8:10 pace.  

If you don't like horror films, don't watch the video below....

Video: 'Double J Suckin' Wind up Pooh Hill' by Kevin Tilton:

The transcript:

JJ: I walked like the whole thing...
KT: 'laughing'
Jim Dunn: that's the whole idea
JJ: I had a huge lead...I don't know anymore...
KT: 'laughing'...you're probably still gonna have a huge lead
Jim Dunn: if you're walkin' then the people behind you are walkin...


All in all, it was really cool to see Scott Mason and one of his Tuesday Night Turtles teammates Bob Jackman (the fellow who missed Pooh Hill) make the 3 hour drive up from Rhode Island, and MVS/adidas teammate Crystal Anthony and her roommate also make the trip up to give snowshoe racing a whirl. This would be Scott and Crystal's first ever snowshoe race, and Scott's first race of any kind in 2 and 1/2 years.

I had a blast running this race, even though I was forced to powerhike most of Pooh Hill. This Granite State series is going to be a fun time this season for sure... Chris Dunn and the Acidotic crew (including Steve Wolfe, pictured to the left with me at the beginning of the race) did a really good job putting this race on and fielding 16 total competitors in a field of 73 finishers. Steve (last season's 2nd place overall series finisher) finished a strong 2nd place at Pooh Hill, giving him a very good chance of working towards an overall title this season.

After the race, Chris raffled off some awesome gear and beer. First place prize was a pair of Kahtoola MICROspikes, which I gladly accepted. These will come in handy this winter for sure... I also got a Redhook T and a 6 pack of Redhook Long Hammer IPA, who supplied multiple cases of beer that made for a fun post-race raffle.

Kristin braved the single digit temps and got some real good shots (343 in all) with a new lens, that can be seen on our Smugmug page.


Next up will be a double bill this coming weekend, as dd and I head West...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tivo's I Love Woodford Video

In anticipation of tomorrow's Pooh Hill Snowshoe race up in Madison, NH, I was pleased to see that Tim VanOrden has posted his latest video of the 'I Love Woodford' race from Woodford, VT on 12/28.  Most of you have already watched some of Tim's videos and they are fantastic...this one doesn't disappoint... He got lots of actual race footage because he sat this race out...




Thanks and great work as usual! I'll be heading up to the Granite State series race tomorrow, but there will be a WMAC race out in Pittsfield that dd and Tivo will most likely be going to...best of luck to everyone!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fudgcicle 5.1 K

Second race and only 3 days into 2009...not a bad way to start.  

Since the North Pond snowshoe race in Florida, MA was cancelled due to the ice storm damage to the state forest, dd and I decided to go do the first Fudgcicle 5k of the season in Tewksbury, MA.  The race is actually a 3.17 distance and has always been historically long (course record belonging to Mr. Dunham at 14:57 or so)... I did this race back in 2007 as my 5th official race back running (3x Wakefield weekly 5ks and the 2.5 loop of Mill Cities, then this).  I was 2 full minutes faster today than then (which is a plus for sure...) 

I figured I'd just go out and see how bad my fitness really is...but was surprised to be able to hang on relatively strong for 1.5 miles before jumping into the hurt box...

Splits - 5.1 k - 16:24 (5:10 pace) - 1st of 45

Mile 1) 5:01
Mile 2) 5:18 (10:19)
Mile 3) 5:15 (15:34)
last .17)  :50 (16:24)


Thursday, January 1, 2009

28th Annual Hangover Classic 5/10k

Happy New Year everyone...1 day up and 1 race in the books...not a bad start.  New Years day, I drove Dave and Cathy Dunham, the lovely and talented Kristin, and Dan Verrinton (fresh off a plane from Florida) to the 28th annual Hangover Classic 5k/10k (results) in Salisbury, MA, put on by the Winner's Circle.

All I can say about this one is that it 'could' have been my 2nd snowshoe race of the year, had I brought a pair of snowshoes to the race...  As you can see from the photo of the start, there wasn't too much clear pavement in this one... I'd say 75% or so of the race was on snow or slush... some parts of the straightaway on the main road was clear on certain sides of the road, which meant an awful lot of crossing back and forth... 

The weather was brutally cold with the windchill... enough to scare all of us away from the ocean plunge afterwards...  The race immediately got off to a bad start as the lead vehicle got caught and couldn't pass an oncoming plow...so the top 10 or so of us all went by and then took the first right, only to completely come to a stop for a brief while, while we waited for someone to tell us where to go... the lead vehicle caught back up eventually and we were off without a hitch from there... We all brought racing flats which turned out to be a pretty dumb move...  Each step on the snow was challenge and some parts around the corners were slick enough where I just had to almost stop to make the turn... Terry Shea (the 10k winner) wore racing flats with Yaktrax on...couple that with being in great shape, and he's got a $200 win under his belt already in 2009.  Add up the course conditions with the temps and the wind and it was pretty slow going for everyone out there....scary to see what kind of time Terry would have run on clear roads...

My race was pretty much what I was expecting... just going through the motions as I try to reel myself back into shape...  Terry Shea (BAA), , and Andy McCarron (CMS) went out immediately and pulled away from me over the first mile or so... I ran in front of Danny Gough for 5 or so miles before he decided to go around me and kick it in.  I took a couple peeks behind me over the last mile, didn't see anyone, and coasted in with a shocking 34:50....shockingly FAST given the fact that I thought I had run at least 38 minutes...  My watch froze up on me right after the start and the display shut off...I had no clue where I was, how long I had been running, or how far (no visible mile markers)...

Dave Dunham offered a free cherry-picking clinic today and ran in the JV 5k, finishing 2nd in a blazing 18:55... and contrary to the race app and online race description, won money... what a jerk.  His wife Cathy also braved the elements and ran the 5k in 32:45.

Top Finishers and CMS Results (in blue):

--10k--

Place
Name
Age
S
Time
Pace
1
TERRANCE SHEA     
35
M
32:37
5:15
2
NICHOLAS WHEELER  
22
M
33:13
5:21
3
ANDY MCCARRON     
26
M
33:22
5:23
4
DANNY GOUGH       
40
M
34:31
5:34
5
JIM JOHNSON       
31
M
34:50
5:37
6
DAN VERRINGTON    
46
M
35:28
5:43
7
DAVID QUINTAL     
45
M
35:50
5:46
8
MICHAEL QUINTAL     
M
37:52
6:06
9
JIMMIE COCHRAN    
34
M
38:12
6:09
10
FABBIO PIERGENTILI
45
M
39:12
6:19


--5k--

Place
Name
Age
S
Time
Pace
1
ALEX BROWN     
21
M
18:40
6:01
2
DAVE DUNHAM    
44
M
18:55
6:06
3
PAUL DOE       
49
M
19:13
6:12
4
KATHLEEN GILROY
47
F
19:41
6:21
5
TODD GERRISH   
47
M
19:51
6:24
6
DAVID SALTMARSH
44
M
20:01
6:27
7
BRENDEN GUINEE 
18
M
20:36
6:38
8
BOB STROUT     
53
M
20:37
6:39
9
JIM CURRAN     
46
M
20:41
6:40
10
JACK COLLOPY   
14
M
20:44
6:41


Top 3 got cash... 4th place was the 1st master, so in 5th place, I won the 30-39 age category which got me a Hangover Classic jacket and gloves....not bad.  And so far this week, I haven't gotten an actual hangover... key words being 'so far'...

Kristin took photos of the start (up on SmugMug) and then the cold weather actually shut down our camera...she only had the video cam functioning for the finish....  

Video Clip 1: Pre race visual evidence wind and delightful conditions....



Video Clip 2: Preparing... and words of wisdom from Dan Verrington...




Video Clip 3: Last minute 'strides' before the race (a.k.a. trying to stay warm)...



Video Clip 4: gads of 5k finishers coming in...then 4th place in 10k, then me...


...thats all for now...